Getting a Movement Pass in Lockdown: Learnings from My Experience
Applications were being rejected on frivolous grounds.
“You are 45 years old and your father is 80. How can this be possible? Where were you all this time, suddenly you want to go (home)?”
These were some questions asked by an officer at the District Magistrate’s office in New Delhi to a migrant worker whose father was discharged from a hospital in Uttarakhand because of ‘less critical disease’ and was left on his own.
I encountered such cases when I, as student of Journalism stuck in Delhi, decided to get an e-pass to reach my hometown Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.
“Sir, I am a migrant worker. My mother is old, I need to go take care of him,” the migrant replied. “Send 2-3 lakhs to your mother, she’ll take care,” suggested the officer.
As per new rules, I was planning to leave via my motorcycle with no pillion rider. I reached the Sub-District Magistrate’s Office of South East Delhi and waited for one hour, only to know that the process is online. I registered all my details including my bike’s RC and Aadhaar Card on 6 May.
To see people facing such hurdles in acquiring a pass was no shock to me as I was also one of them. My application was rejected after three days on 8 May. Thereafter, I started knocking the doors of every public office in hopes of reaching home.
I went from pillar to post, from the SDM Office to DM office. I called the coronavirus helpline number (1031), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare helpline (011-22307145) but all was in vain. I received no help.
Observations at the DM Office
After receiving assurance from one office bearer, I reached the New Delhi DM office at Jamnagar House, Shahjahan Road. Migrants and people with emergencies were standing in line, keeping little distance with each other. There was no strict enforcement of social distancing and officials paid no heed to it either.
No wonder why there was a lack of space outside the office. More than half the space for the queue was given to kitchen workers for making and serving high-end meals inside the office building.
There was no hope left of getting work done. After much ado, I was told to “apply online again and again until the DM sees the request.”
The officer said, “I don’t know what to do, give space for next.”
“Where should I go now,” I asked. “Far from here,” he replied.
Pitying myself was not an option as there were others whose situations were far worse. A son with his 80-year-old father was searching for a colour printer. His mother died in the morning in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan and with help from the village panchayat, a death certificate was made available. But public servants made several interrogations.
“Photo of deceased is not clear in the certificate,” the officer said. Indeed, there will be a strong reason to seek a clear photo of a dead person, doubting credibility on the son’s and husband’s tears.
What important documents, other than the death certificate, a son needs to see his mother’s face last time?
They didn’t even accept a military hospital’s coronavirus (negative) report to give a green signal to an army personnel. For three whole days, as I was told, this soldier was made to bring different documents to get the nod to see his wife and daughter stranded in Himachal Pradesh.
“I am not going anywhere, they won’t let me! I will be staying here and just producing Aadhaar cards and reports,” he lamented.
Creating a door doesn’t help when there is no key. People with genuine documents and reason, pleading for help, were rejected on frivolous grounds. Surely, a father and son have reason to travel over 500 km via two-wheelers to see their dead acquaintance. So does an army man who wishes to meet his family members.
I am not planning to leave via the recently started passenger trains as there is ambiguity in the stops it will make. I have not informed my parents about the current situation because I do not want them to stress. So here I am, with no e-pass and diminishing hope. All I can do is wait.
(The author is a student at Indian Institute of Mass Communication. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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